Two teams, each with 19 wins, fought off rust in search of an elusive 20th victory in a late March survive and advance match up.
Minnesota did Wednesday night at Williams Arena, defeating Milwaukee 87-80.
“I think not playing for so long and [we] haven’t been in a game mode” since a 84-74 loss to Northwestern March 3 in Indianapolis, admitted Gopher sophomore guard Allina Starr to the MSR afterwards.
The game was lethargic rather than a Goliath vs. David cakewalk.
“No one at this time of year will be an easy opponent,” noted UM Coach Marlene Stollings of the visiting Panthers, who finished 19-13. “I thought Milwaukee battled hard and played well.”
It took all 48 points scored by UM guard Rachel Banham, including 35 in the second half. Her scoring output was a WNIT record.
“I’m a competitor. I don’t want to lose, no matter what tournament we are in,” stated the 5-9 scoring machine.
Minnesota improved to 20-11. They will play South Dakota Sunday, 2 pm Central time in a WNIT second round game.
“We’re excited to be hosting again,” concluded Stollings.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.